Monday, April 19, 2010

Book Review: Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

As mentioned upstream, on the heels of watching the movie Julie & Julia, I came across a copy of the book Julie & Julia by Julie Powell at the annual used book sale at work. So I picked it up and gave it a read -- not just because I enjoy reading about horribly fattening foods, but also because I pretty much expected it to be a handy printout of the blog entries from her Julie/Julia Project.

The surprising thing for me was that it was much less a reprint of a year's worth of blogging about cooking all the recipes from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking than it was a personal memoir about the experience of blogging and cooking for a year. In that way, I suspect it made for a better read as a book ... less disjointed. Of course, it also made it a bit less immediate than a blog. We already know that she carries through with this whacky experiment, whereas her blog readers really had no idea.

The book itself was a quick, light read. Julie -- and you do feel you're on a first-name basis with her by the end -- does a good job of drawing you into the daily grind that made her try this crazy little experiment in the first place. And that makes it fun.

It also got me thinking about this wee little blog, which in its year-plus of existence has not developed thousands of followers, resulted in a flood of book advances, or inspired a movie. I do, however, have 27 fierce followers and I've already cornered the world Internet market on beagle haiku -- though I must admit that a near-monopoly on the world's supply of beagle haiku hasn't yet proven as lucrative as I hoped.

Frankly, that 27 of you have become regular followers is about 25 more than I expected. I kinda figured that Monique and my Mom would read it on occasion, and that I might acquire another reader or two for a post here or there. Now, if I post with any regularity I seem to get upwards of 50 or 60 hits a day, and there was a stretch there when I hit over 100 per day for a while.

To all of you I say this: click on the ads, will ya, people? Criminy, I blew the boat fund on the mortgage this Winter. I don't expect a movie with Meryl Streep, but there are Patio Boat repairs to be done. Help a brother out!

Oh, wait, did I type that into the blog and reveal my mercenary soul? ... Ah, the dangers of being a rather random stream-of-consciousness blogger. No matter, we press on. What I really meant to say was that I was thinking about was the different types of blogs there are out there. The Julie/Julia Project was a pretty good "stunt blog." It was a day-by-day recounting of a specific project with a goal and a timeline. In that way it kind of reminds me of another classic of the early days of blogging, The FAT Project: Who Can Gain 30 Pounds in 30 Days? from the, back in 2000 when it was a fun read. (i.e. Before Barnes & Noble bought it.)

In fact, when I look at all the truly traffic-drawing blogs, they tend to have a genuine focus of some sort, whether it's food, politics, or even the cast of characters you can find over at the Gettysburg Family. (As long as I'm being bossy, go click on some of Susan's ads, too. Raising four kids is almost as expensive as having a decrepit old pontoon boat.)

And so, I thought I'd take a look back at the last fifteen months of blogs here, to see what this blog is about. And you know what? When I go back and sample the 364 posts here, they have a genuinely astonishing erratic lack of focus. Heck, even beagle haiku only account for a mere 18.4% of the total!

Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is obviously the erratic output of an erratic mind.

And so be it. I started this little thing up to do a better job of updating my friends & family about what I've been up to here in Michigan. And I think it's worked out pretty well in that regard. I also thought it might be good to get me back in the habit of daily ... well, near-daily writing. And its done that, too, despite a few dry spells. I'm pleased with how it's worked out for me.

But I do sometimes wonder ... how is this working for you, my readers?

Let me know if there's something you'd like to see more of. Or less of. Or whatever. I probably won't change or improve a thing. But I am kinda curious.

(Oh, and since this was really meant to be a book review, let's wrap it up as such.)

Summary: A fun read, whether you're interested in blogging, French cooking, or just tales of life in New York City.

Amazon: Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (Hardcover); Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously (Paperback). (I read the paperback, which has a bit of an update at the end.)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that explains why you got home so late on Monday!

    I find your blog quite interesting because you write so nicely that the reading is a pleasure and you write about things that we later talk about but may not have if you hadn't written about them first.